Sealed lead acid batteries or SLA batteries are here to stay. Because of their economical price, dependable service, and low maintenance requirements, plus being rechargeable, SLA batteries are the preferred choice for a variety of applications. You will find companies from all segments of industry using SLA batteries, from powersports, golf carts, scooters, forklifts, motorcycles, wheelchairs, atvs, if it needs a rechargeable battery a sealed lead acid battery is a terrific option.
Differing from flooded lead acid batteries (FLA), SLA batteries are sealed, or valve regulated lead acid batteries. Being sealed allows this battery to be considered maintenance free. In the former, routine maintenance is required to top off the battery's cell with distilled water to refill its electrolyte levels. Although SLA batteries are 'maintenance free' there are still some things to remember. SLA batteries need careful and diligent charging routines. Though they do not suffer from the memory effect of old nickel-cadmium batteries of the 70’s and 80’s. The memory effect happens when a battery is not completely depleted, allowing the battery to 'remember' how much juice was needed last time and causing it to not allocate anymore for the next charge. This is akin to Oscar, from The Office, telling Michael Scott that he needs to spend this year’s budget, or they will see a decrease in budgeted money for the next year.
Even though the memory effect is not in play here there are still some hurdles. Improper charging cycles can cause irreversible damage in SLA batteries. If an SLA battery is left to overcharge, the excess cell voltage will cause the electrolyte to turn into large amounts of hydrogen and oxygen gasses. A pressure-release must vent this gas, causing a loss of electrolyte and thus a loss of capacity. If the battery is undercharged the low cell voltage creates an environment where the charge current diminishes to zero before full capacity is reached. This causes some of the lead sulphate created during discharge to stay on the plates, where it will crystallize, this crystallization causes a permanent loss of capacity.
It is worth mentioning that SLA batteries have a self-discharge rate of around 5% per month. This is less than most other forms of rechargeable batteries but should be noted.
There are two types of battery technology at work in SLA batteries. The absorbed glass mat or AGM battery and Gel Cell battery or gel battery. Both offering deep cycle battery benefits.
- AGM Battery: AGM is short for Absorbed Glass Mat. In the AGM battery, the electrolyte is absorbed into thin glass fibers or fiberglass mat separators between the battery plates. This design allows the electrolytes to be absorbed between the battery plates.
- Gel Cell Battery: In gel batteries, the electrolyte are held together in a silica gel. This allows electrons to flow between the battery plates but not leak out.
AGM Batteries typically outsell the Gel types when you consider durability, long life and charging. They tend to be more cost effective, and they have the added bonus of being very dependable at different operating temperatures. There is some debate on cycle life between these two types of batteries. An article for another day.
Gel batteries, present less leaking percentage due to their gel-like makeup when compared to AGM batteries. They also perform outstanding in varying temperatures, from -40 up to 140 degrees. They can withstand corrosion, shock, and vibration extremely well. They are also much lighter than AGM batteries. They are not considered general purpose but best used in an application that calls for a deep cycle battery.
If you’re not sure which battery will best fit your requirements, contact a Powerstride representative at (877) 576-9379. Remember to check out our FAQs tab on our website for more helpful information.
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